I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a woman possessed by the notion of home.
I think of it so often. Crave it so desperately. Like a person without food who dreams of little else, I think in paint chips and thick rugs and hanging frames. Toilet paper dispensers and dishwashers and a front yard. But more than that, I think of roots. And of how I feel rootless.
How I am a woman without a home. Desperate to dig my hands into the soil and plant a flag. And how, much as I want it to, my life will not yield to this desire.
In fact, the more I want it, the more elusive it becomes.
Leaving Brooklyn felt like a really bad breakup. The sort where you’re still in love with the person, but that love is no longer viable or feasible or even good. And so you must go.
So into the city I moved. Into a particular tangle of streets that I find overwhelming and oppressive and in many ways untenable. But the apartment is quiet and there is some solace in that.
Sometimes I think of how I’ll describe this moment in my life, when I am fortunate enough to look back.
I’ll say that in some ways I was scared of my own shadow. That the city was suddenly dirty in a way it had never before been for me.
I’ll say that men in fine linens ferried bottles of wine between a windowless restaurant and an unmarked apartment. And how, for me, their quiet parade was the very best thing about living on that particular street, in that particular apartment, in that particular neighborhood, at that particular moment.
And I’ll say that low rents and a central location made a very many things bearable.
But that New York was dying to me. And I knew it.
You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served.
Nina Simone said that. Or sang that, really.
I’ve had it on repeat for days now—not the song, but the thought, circling and spinning and making a bit of a mess in the order of my thoughts.
You’ve got to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served.
I’m in my first Saturn return.
I offer this up because, for me, it seems to be the only reasonable explanation for the events of this last year.
It’s been a really, really crummy year. Remarkably so. And, unfortunately, I can’t figure out a way to write about it and make it okay.
It’s not okay.
It’s really not.
And yet it has to be.
Saturn return is the period during which the planet Saturn returns to the place in the sky it was at the time of your birth. It’s a rotation takes 29.4 years. And the effects, supposedly, are felt most intensely from the ages of twenty-eight to to thirty.
It’s a time of extreme reckoning.
A harsh look at the reality of one’s life.
A paring away of fat. A dismantling of everything that is no-longer-good-enough.
Going through it—the best way I can think to describe it—it’s the process by which we figure out where love is being served. And where it is not.
Which is to say, when to get up from the table and when to stay.
The irony is, the process demands a willingness to sit down.
Which means you have to show up. Again and again and again. And again. Despite how hard it is. Despite the difficulty of the reckoning. Despite the acute pain that very often accompanies great growth.
And the process, while occasionally thrilling, is mostly brutal.
A guy I know from work, and who often laughs at me when in the company kitchen, told me to reveal nothing of what’s happened in this last year, if ever I find myself on a date.
Why not, I asked?
Because he’ll think you’re cursed, was his swift and complete response.
From the reading I’ve done (yes, I’ve actually researched this astrological event), the point of it is total honesty with one’s self. And the result of that honesty, faith.
Faith in one’s self. In mistakes and missteps. Faith in a larger, ordered grace—messy as it mostly is.
It’s not lost on me that, in the events of this last year, there has a been the common refrain, by people on the other side of a few different issues: Is this really an issue, or are you making it up?
And as someone who was told, for years, by medical professionals that I was imagining my own illness, I am particularly sensitive to this line of attack.
But this is the point of Saturn’s return. You resolve the problems you’ve already resolved. But you resolve them differently. With more grace. And dare I say, grit. You keep your head up when everything threatens to pull you under, and you hook into faith even when when a very large part of you feels like but-what’s-the-point.
You age. You take things less personally. You move on.
And you calmly and quietly keep on.
Yes, years from now I’ll talk about the crummy apartment, and I’ll talk about how I felt lonely in a new way that was very often alarming, but I’ll also say, that on a day in early August, just when it felt like everything was falling apart, a very dear friend asked me what I could do, each day, to make things a little bit better.
And how it was but one word that wetted my lips: write.
An active thing. A reaching thing. A reckoning.
And how this friend then pointed out that an apartment in which I feel displaced, and a relatively solitary existence, may actually be the very things a person needs to answer the call and write the book. To finish the book.
There’s a new Liz Gilbert Ted talk. It’s short. To the point. She speaks of life in the wake of enormous success. And how such success can feel very much like failure, in that it is alienating and corruptive and often overwhelming. And so, to survive, she went home. Which is to say, she wrote.
For her, home was—is—writing.
Turns out I do have some roots.. The paint chips will wait. They have to, I have a book to write.